As any pimple popper knows, objects in the mirror are grosser than they appear. What starts out as a mid-sized skin beastie can turn into an angry gargoyle once you “release the kraken”.
Taking up residence on your face with its own baggage and area code, nobody blames you for trying to evict this ugly trespasser. But should you?
You can TRY to accelerate a pimple’s move-out process, you can’t force it. Breakouts are like breakups; if you cut ties too aggressively, you’ll leave behind big, glaring scars. So take this advice: don’t pop your pimples! For all the nitty-gritty reasons, we referred to Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.
You’ll cause inflammation
Going into combat with your skin is a losing battle. While you might extract some goop, you’re actually causing trauma to your face and worsening the problem. To understand why, let’s briefly review how a pimple forms.
Think of the pores in your face as a dirt collector. It gets clogged with dead skin cells, oil and bacteria— the dreaded recipe for pus. As this white invader irritates the pore, “it creates a collection of inflammatory blood cells that accumulate within the follicle and reach the surface of the skin,” Dr. Zeichner explains.
When you force the pimple to release its junk, all that poking and pressure leads to more swelling. It’ll just get redder and puffier.
Bottom line, don’t poke the bear.
You can worsen the pimple
Pimples are like icebergs. You can only see the white tip, but deep down below, their size could be enormous. If you underestimate the depth and start popping, the wreckage to your face might be titanic.
Since you can’t actually see how far the blockage goes into your pore, you can’t tackle the problem properly. It might look like a harmless surface zit, but for all you know, you could be pushing the pus further into your skin. According to Dr. Zeichner, when this happens, the oil forms a "balloon-like" shape under the skin and inflates, depending on how much oil is left.
By the next day, you could end up with a large nodule. This monstrosity of a lump is when the infection festers deep in the skin, causing major swelling which forces the area to harden.
Instead of squeezing the spot, he suggests using a spot treatment containing benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid to dry out the pimple safely.
You might cause scarring
Picking at the problem can cause a scar. On a micro level, you’re basically puncturing your skin.
As Dr. Zeichner reveals, when you pop a pimple, you’re forcefully pushing out the contents — bacteria, oil, debris — creating a tiny wound. Depending on the extent of your popping work, you can damage the skin tissue. In the best case scenario, it’ll heal into a scab, peel off and fade away.
But other times, the damage is enough to form a scar. If it’s one of those deep bloody pimples, the leftover mark won’t fade. That’s how you get crater-like pits in your face.
You’ll know to keep a hands-off approach to your pimple when you squeeze it and “only blood comes out,” Dr. Zeichner says. “It's a sign your pimple should not be messed with, so stop touching it immediately.”
You can cause more pimples
If you want to invite more friends to your pimple party, go ahead and pop that zit. Squeezing your face — whether it works or not—can create new spots.
Not only are you introducing extra bacteria to your face from your fingers (and who knows where they’ve been), but the gunk that oozes out will seep into neighbouring pores and spawn new minions. Dr. Zeichner explains that the bacteria, oil, and debris contained by the acne papule or cyst, once released, can spread and lead to more acne. You might not see a new pimple form right away; it could take days or even weeks.
So don’t be fooled by a “successful” extraction. Your handiwork will usually take its toll. It’s better not to gamble with your odds.
You might fall victim to a popping frenzy
Let’s be honest: there’s a creepishly satisfying sensation that comes with popping a zit. Especially if it’s an annoying Godzilla of a blemish, you’ll get that weird rush of relief watching all the crud squirt free. Ew…but so Ahh.
Except that’s when the trouble starts: Once your adrenaline gets going, you’re scouring your face for more opportunities to achieve that delight. Like a shark getting a whiff of blood, you can’t stop when you’re in hot pursuit. Before you know it, you’ve been in the washroom for 20 minutes and your face looks like you’ve been making out with a jellyfish.
Sound familiar? Resisting this urge to pop is your primary solution. You’ll prevent the frenzy from taking over.
When it comes to pimple popping, abstinence is your best form of protection. Only when the zit is ripe and ready, with the whitehead poking out, can you give a tiny nudge. And if so, make sure your hands are super clean and you wash your face afterwards. But ideally, you should let a pimple heal on its own. By maintaining a healthy skincare routine, including a face wash containing natural antibacterials, you can defend against breakouts.
Whether your skin is dry, oily, acne-prone or a combination of all, our Daily Face Wash features ingredients like Aloe, Jojoba Oil & Argan Oil to help you improve and maintain the appearance and overall health of your skin.